I have a project underway -- turning a 150 year old park-style cemetery just down the street from me into a collection of heritage/heirloom/antique garden plants, including and revolving around roses. It's been something I wanted to do for a bit, but couldn't find a place willing to host such a collection AND willing to stick to a planting plan with identification tags. Long story short, when I was put in touch with The Elmwood Cemetery in NJ (you'll have to google that, since I can't post links yet), we started talking about what we can do.
As Spring came late to our area, I was behind on getting my own garden ready for the season, so it wasn't until June 5th that I started on making the first bed. This approximately 32 feet by 35 feet area is under a beautiful beech tree, which casts too much shade on the ground below for grass, which left lots of bare earth showing. This will be too shady for roses, but I know there are things which like these conditions. Right now, we're talking about Hostas, Ferns, Lamium, maybe some Cyclamen, Begonia grandis, early Spring bulbs, etc. There will still be room to walk through the bed, as the plants will be used around the tree, around the stones, etc. My goal is to jot down a date range for the stones in a bed, and use only those cultivars which were in commerce during those times. I've already created a vast list of appropriate roses and other plants, including where to find them. This will be my reference for creating each new planting area, as well as for dotted "specimen" plants in smaller areas.
But first, the bed has to be prepped. I cut a furrow-edge around it, laid cardboard over the scant grass and weeds, and covered it in wood chips. The cemetery has a HUGE supply of wood chips in several large piles -- I was told it's over ten dumptrucks' worth in total -- which increases as trees die, lose branches, etc. and their remains are chipped and dumped. So this project is, as cemetery president Eleanor says, "killing many birds with one stone" -- finding a use for the chips, eliminating eyesore and hard-to-mow areas, adding beauty, encouraging community interest, etc.
I've gone into more detail on the Houzz Antique Roses Forum in my thread "The Elmwood Cemetery Rose Garden can officially begin!", but for those of you who'd rather not go there, this was a summing-up of the back-story. And below are some pics.
Satellite image of the cemetery -- note that those are houses, not cars, along the perimeter. The cemetery is about 50 acres.
Cemetery map with historic notables, from website.
June 5th -- I begin!
June 6th -- extra day off from work, so continuing with more cardboard, then finished rough-cutting the furrow edge when I ran out of cardboard.
Since I had more energy but no more cardboard, I cleaned up the furrow with a hand trowel, and clipped exposed tree roots.
Once that was done, it was just a matter of collecting as many appropriate cardboard boxes as I could get during my work-week, then bringing them to the cemetery on my "normal weekend" of Mon-Tue. Generally, I'm there for about four hours a day, two or three days a week.
These pictures were taken after working on the bed June 11th and 12th.
Then this is as far as I got after June 18th and 19th -- I would have kept going, but I ran out of cardboard!
I managed to score some more, but when I got to the cemetery, I was surprised with a carload of cardboard from one of the board members. Those long boxes made finishing the last bit of the bed a breeze. I saved the boxes I brought for the next bed.
Then Mark, the groundskeeper, came by with more mulch drops, which I spread out. Unfortunately, I was a bit short of finishing, but Mark had to go off and finish something else before going home for the day.
That last bit was sneering at me for assuming I'd finish today, but no worries -- Mark will drop more mulch while I'm at work for the week, and it's just a few minutes of spreading it before starting the next bed. That one gets more sun, so old roses will go in there when it's ready.